Last updated: February 20. 2013 3:14AM - 631 Views

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Gas drilling presents problems and concerns

Although some of the substances added to frack fluid, which is used in unconventional drilling for natural gas, are deemed trade secrets, and thus not made public, the main breakdown of typical fracking ingredients may be found online.

But this information does nothing to promote the claim that unconventional drilling is safe for either people or the environment near a gas well.

The documented additives include friction inhibitors, anti-microbial agents, scale inhibitors and hydrochloric acid. The percentage of the overall mixture seems small, about 0.12 percent but because the total volume is so large the amounts of these additives used in a typical frack operation add up to about 4,000 gallons. Some of the chemicals in these concoctions are known or suspected to cause serious health problems even when a person comes in contact with a very small amount.

For instance, the anti-microbial ingredient methanol can be fatal to anyone who consumes as little as four fluid ounces. Laboratory animals exposed to friction reducers have developed liver or kidney problems.

A recent study conducted by Tom Meyers, an independent hydrogeologist, whose clients include the federal government and environmental groups, used computer generated models to predict what may happen to frack liquid left underground. Contrary to claims made by the industry the results of the study indicate that fluid may migrate into the aquifer in only a few years.

This study has been criticized by Professor Terry Engelder, a Penn State professor of geosciences and advocate of unconventional drilling methods, for not being based upon actual observations related to fracking operations.

So, are there studies currently under way to measure migration of fracking fluid, of which billions of gallons have been left underground in Pennsylvania? This would appear to be an excellent opportunity for a research institution such as Penn State to conduct studies.

But Marcellus shale research at Penn State, which mainly focused on predicting economic benefits for the state, has recently been abandoned because of faculty concerns over a perceived lack of objectivity.

Another danger associated with fracking operations is that the liquid that comes up out of the gas well, about 60 percent of the total volume, is often stored in frack ponds near the drilling site. Pennsylvania allows Marcellus wells to be drilled only 500 feet from residences, which creates health risks associated with either leaky ponds or evaporation. In the debate about the integrity of our drinking water, the importance of air-quality issues is often overlooked. Homes in rural areas where drilling occurs are often nestled between hills, in hollows where surrounding air sinks and collects during many a cold morning.

Drilling proponents rally around the cry to do it right! But there are drilling-related problems that are difficult, if not impossible, to completely control. The extent of the sacrifices made by Pennsylvanians will finally be understood only after the effects have taken their toll.

Citizens should call reps regarding Social Security

Some members of the Republican Party have taken a vow to never raise taxes.

They are so indebted to the people who financed their election campaigns that they refuse to see the solution to our fiscal problems.

They claim Social Security is in danger of running out of money, so their solution is to get rid of it. What they don't tell you is that the United States government borrowed over 4 trillion dollars from the Social Security fund and even though they signed IOUs to pay it back, they can't unless they raise our income tax to pay back Social Security.

Since they vowed to never raise taxes their solution is to convince the people who aren't collecting Social Security that they are wasting their money contributing to the fund so they can dissolve it without paying back the money they owe.

Wall Street created a consumer-driven economy that was dependent on the American people spending their money on products which would create jobs.

One hundred years ago corporations were able to exploit the workers with unsafe conditions and low wages. The unions were started to insure safe working conditions and a decent livable wage. That's what created the American middle class.

Now a hundred years later the corporations miss the good old days where they could pollute freely and exploit workers.

They move their headquarters off shore to avoid taxes.

They pollute the air and water in poor countries where the people can't stop them.

They pay employees the same or less than they did 100 years ago.

It's up to the citizens of this country to let our representatives in Congress know that we want them to preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

We will not be deceived into thinking that the only way to reduce the deficit is to rob the elderly, the sick, the poor, veterans, students and children.

It's time for the top 2 percent to pay their fair share.

Colleges need better measure than the SAT

Every year junior and senior high school students take the SAT to get into a college. The SAT is very heavily looked upon by all colleges, but I think it is very unfair. The SAT is just a number that tells you how much you remember, but not on your talent or abilities.

The SAT should not be the primary aspect colleges look at. There are better ways to show how a student really is.

You could see how the student is in the classroom. You can see if the student shows pride and interest in his or her grades.

Some kids might not even show any interest in school, but do well on the SAT. There should be a better alternative for the SAT. For example, have a student take a test that is determined by the college he or she wants to go to, or maybe have a test in the career field the student wants to enter.

The SAT will probably never stop, but colleges should consider ways to change that.

Post-flood assessment unfair to some victims

I had considerable damage to our home because of the flooding and I just heard that every homeowner is going to be assessed $50 extra for federally backed flood insurance. Someone explain to me why I should be forced to be part of this scam.

I have had flood insurance for the last 35 years. Just because a lot of residents choose not to get this relatively cheap coverage ($150 a year), why should I be penalized?

What we need is a changing of the guard that is running this town. Get some Republicans in office.

Diane Dreier Dallas William J. Herbert Wilkes-Barre Abhay Metgud Mountain Top Jim Jag Jr. West Pittston

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